Has anyone heard of this book or read it? From wikipedia:
Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors is a book written under the pseudonym Rex Feral and published by Paladin Press in 1983. It has been claimed that the book started life as a detailed crime novel written by a Florida housewife, and that the format was later changed to appeal to Paladin's reader base. The book portrays itself as a how-to manual on starting a career as a hit man, fulfilling contracts.What I don't understand is what could this book possibly say about performing contract killings that you couldn't sort of piece together yourself? It's not like the Anarchist's Cookbook, where you could find detailed recipes for bombs that you might not otherwise find elsewhere or be able to divine yourself. But allegedly this book was so detailed and helpful that it was found to have aided and abetted a triple murder:
Existing copies at Paladin Press were destroyed after the book was found to be used as a guide during a triple murder in 1993 (see below), but it can still be found online or can be purchased used from independent sellers. It is believed that 13,000 copies were sold, although Reason Magazine estimates there are 20,000 copies of the book in existence.
In 1993, a triple murder was committed in Montgomery County, Maryland, by a man who claimed to have used the book as his guide. James Perry, who had been imprisoned for violent crime, was caught, convicted, and sentenced to death. He had been hired by Lawrence T. Horn, who sought to receive the proceeds of a trust fund that resulted from his ex-wife's suing a hospital over injuries to their son. The families of Mildred Horn, her son Trevor, and her nurse Janice Saunders sued Paladin Press, the publisher of the book, claiming Paladin Press "aided and abetted" the murder. The suit, Rice v Paladin Enterprises, claimed that Paladin Press had a share of responsibility in the murders by virtue of their publication of a book that, by Paladin's own admission, could be used by criminals and would-be criminals in the solicitation, planning, and commission of murder for hire.What?! Censorship?! This is much worse than the Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure censorship.
In November 1997, a U.S. appeals court ruled 3-0 that Hit Man was not protected by the free speech/free press clause of the First Amendment and thus Paladin Enterprises could be held liable for a triple murder committed by one of its readers.
On May 21, 1999, Paladin Press' insurance company agreed to settle the case out-of-court, against the wishes of Paladin Press themselves, who were confident that they would prevail in court; however, Paladin’s insurance company balked at going to court again, figuring expenses for a lengthy trial in federal court, plus the posting of a bond in case they lost and appealed, would have cost much more than the settlement. Under this settlement, Paladin's insurance policy paid several million dollars to the families of those killed by the murderer, while also agreeing to destroy the remaining 700 copies of the book in their possession and surrendering any rights they had to publish and reproduce the work. Jon Ford, Paladin’s editorial director, called the settlement "economic censorship."